Saturday, March 31, 2007


'Swan Lake' today at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre. Do I need to do that to myself, I hear you ask? How many times have I seen it? Probably too many, but I was urged to see it since the female lead was a ballerina recently returned from Moscow. (Looking at her CV, it seems she was born in Moscow, her name is not Georgian, so 'returned' may be a slight overstatement.)

My heart sank at the first entry of the orchestral brass, in the overture. Imagine running a fingernail across a roughcast wall - that was roughly the sound! The intonation issues, though, come from the flute end of the orchestra - as soon as more than one played, things became iffy. And the fiddles were a bit on the thin side - the orchestra lacks bite.....maybe that's why the audience talks through the music, and starts chatting again as soon as a curtain comes down, even during an interlude.

The beginning was surprising - I had expected the usual Tchaikovsky court scene/outdoor scene/court scene arrangement for the evening - but the curtain opened to a ballet school! And very nice it was, too - plain simple ballet school costumes, the guys in Tshirts tucked into their tights (difficult to do that little movement of pulling down your vest...), mirrors behind them; there was a dancing instructor and they all did their little things. A lovely idea.... but after that it went into traditional sets and costumes, with the usual forest glade and the court scene, followed at the last moment by the lakeside scene. But wait...our hero falls asleep....and the curtain opens anew on the ballet school, where he wakes up to the laughter of his friends...it was all a dream. It was nice that there was at least an attempt at some originality!

The dancing was not bad; at first I thought that Maria Alexandrova was a bit stiff; when she did the fluttering things it was noticeable that she had elbows (I am sure Maya Pliseckaja did not have elbows or any other joints when she was young, but she does now), and sometimes that tripping stuff that dancers do to float across the stage, seemed a bit forced. And she did not relate much to the audience, or even to her Siegfried. But when she was Odile, her athleticism, and her aura of sheer triumph was awesome! Maybe she is more an athletic than a lyrical dancer.

The others did well, too - Siegfried was good, as was Rothbart. The little swans were sweet, as always; the bigger swans, who should be absolutely together every millisecond, had moments of distraction (because of the star in their midst?), and sometimes those legs came down like the keys of a piano, when you run your fingers along the keyboard...

On reviewing - the wife of a pianist whose playing I reviewed in November has expressed her support for her husband here.